Mitsotakis: EU should raise Solidarity Fund by €2.5 billion to cover natural disasters

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters after the informal European Council in Granada that the European Union should raise the Solidarity Fund by €2.5 billion to cover natural disasters.

The Western Balkans' European integration prospects "is an issue we have been discussing over the last 20 years, since the Thessaloniki Declaration," Mitsotakis said from the Spanish city on Friday, reported AMNA.

The premier emphasised that Greece will continue to support the Western Balkan countries' EU accession and will argue that all countries that receive candidate status be dealt with under the same set of rules.

He added that no geopolitical priorities should hinder this process, which is already strictly defined.

Asked about migration, Mitsotakis said that the progress achieved with the new Migration & Asylum Pact under discussion is in the right direction.

"But this pact alone cannot resolve the migration issue," he noted. "What is needed is a much more comprehensive approach, a greater activation of the entire European Union, of its institutions and its member states, to support the countries that lie on the Union's external borders."

Citing the EU-Tunisia migration deal as a successful example, Mitsotakis said that the same should be pursued with both Libya and Egypt, which hosts a large number of migrants, and "it would truly be a disaster if these were to head towards Europe."

He added that "the same is happening with Türkiye currently, to a certain degree, through a discussion taking place in the context of improving Greek-Turkish relations, so obviously this issue has an important European dimension."

Funding resources

Responding to a question about the EU's budget and the Multiannual Financial Frameworks (MMFs), Mitsotakis said that the European Commission has tabled a proposal which takes into account Greece's concerns.

Greece is "asking for much more money for Ukraine, and rightly so, because we will continue to support Ukraine," Mitsotakis pointed out. But, as he said he argued at the Council, the EU cannot be providing additional funding to Ukraine and much less to support natural catastrophes experienced by its own citizens.

"The Solidarity Fund is very small and has already been depleted. Greece achieved the greatest flexibility in the use of the resources available to it to deal with natural disasters, which struck primarily Thessaly," the region of central Greece, he noted.

"But it is clear this is not enough, because it is probable we will have to deal with more such phenomena in the future.

"That is why I believe that raising the Solidarity Funding by 2.5 billion euros - within a revised total framework that exceeds 65 billion - is an amount that should not raise any major concerns. These positions are better understood at the European Council, even though we are not yet close to a final agreement."

Finally, in reference to defence spending, Mitsotakis reiterated that the EU should not include Greece's defence spending as part of the EU's deficit calculation.

"Greece is a country that spends a lot for its defence. But these expenditures have a European dimension," he added, since the expenditures do not just serve national sovereignty but contribute to Europe's strategic autonomy as well.

Mitsotakis on Friday welcomed the three awards given to Greece by the World Innovation, Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), a consortium of IT and communications associations representing 80 countries, in a post on Facebook.

"Greece is not simply following developments but shaping them. At the same time that it is fighting with long-term dysfunctions, it is taking the lead in innovation and in using technology for a better daily life, solving the problems of the past and winning the wagers of the future. Greece is changing, moving forward and aiming high!" Mitsotakis said, congratulating the government departments involved in the award-winning programmes.

The Greek premier was referring to the first prize in digital health applications awarded to the "Fofi Gennimata" cancer screening programme, the award to the public-sector IT systems Interoperability Centre in the "Transformation of the State" category and the myDESKlive service for electronic appointments, which won second prize in the "Digital Opportunity/Inclusion" category.

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